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Buy this essay and others in Jim's new book Being Sovereign.

The Indomitus Report
Volume 2, #20

20 June 2005
Hiding Places

Being Sovereign

      "More than ever before, the details about our lives are no longer our own. They belong to the companies that collect them, and the government agencies that buy or demand them in the name of keeping us safe....Only we have no control over the diaries, and we can't even know what they say about us. And there's no place to hide."

      - Robert O'Harrow, Jr., No Place to Hide, 2005

Robert O'Harrow is wrong. There are places to hide and methods to use in hiding. There are ways to approach your sovereignty to protect your privacy, your anonymity, your property, your finances, and create in others an illusion of your security that serves your needs. These are not easy things to do, but they are possible and worthwhile.

O'Harrow is correct in his analysis of the security state, the companies collecting data, the surveillance systems, the government's eyes and ears. He is correct in identifying the heavy irony involved in George Bush asserting that terrorists should have no place to hide just a few decades after Frank Church, in investigating governmental surveillance of the American people lamented that there would be no place to hide.

But, obviously, some people do hide, here among us, even now. Where are the CIA operatives? Where are the NSA operatives? Where are the undercover FBI agents? Where are the senior intelligence advisors, right now? You don't know. I don't know. Many of them don't know each other's whereabouts. There are places to hide all over the world, and men and women in hiding, right now.

They masquerade as families, as co-workers, as businessmen and women, as doctors, lawyers, diplomats. They are covert operatives. Their black operations are concealed from nearly everyone in the government, and probably from the Congress which authorizes their budgets in very large increments. They build spy satellites and spy planes in secret. They manage archives of secret information and hide bizarre weapons technologies in places like "Area 51." They have access to deep underground bunkers, inside granite mountains like Cheyenne, Mount Weather, and other even more secret facilities.

Anything that has happened is possible. It is possible to function without being seen, without being detected, without being subject to satellite surveillance, in disguise, in hiding. The bank accounts, credit cards, electronic door keys, and other technologies that track and reveal your whereabouts and movements are superfluous. There are plenty of places which don't require these things, don't look for this information, don't ask, and therefore don't tell on you.

Do you need a bank account? Look at the Cambist.net GoldChex system. Look at the electronic money orders offered by MyICIS, ALFII, and EMOcorp. Look at the features of 1MDC.com for examples of ways in which you can make payments, even regular, periodic payments, without involving a bank account. Look at the debit cards available from half a dozen or more companies, fundable with free market money. Given these many payment alternatives, what need have you of credit cards, identity papers, or bank accounts in your name?

For every grocery store with a discount card, there are two that don't have such programs. If you don't use their card, they may charge you more for groceries, but they have no idea who you are or what purchases you are making with cash. Debit cards are available which don't reveal your name, address, phone number, or other personal data. Some debit cards are truly anonymous. They are the classic numbered accounts - you fund them and you use them, and nobody asks who you are.

Jurisdictional arbitrage is a technique for hiding data about yourself and your transactions and activities. You hide data in other countries where other standards apply to gain access to your data. You take advantage of the five flags philosophy by having assets in one country, business affairs in another, your primary residence in a third, your country of origin in a fourth, and your main customers in a fifth. Vacation in five other countries still, and don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Yes, there are powerful technologies working against you. However, the main ingredient in your ruin is the fact that other people observe you, watch you, and turn you in. As our old friend Étienne de la Boétie says, it is the hands of the people generally who hold up the tyrant, their eyes which watch on his behalf what others are doing, their fists which pummel those who disobey. Everyone would be safe and at peace, in privacy, comfort, and prosperity, if everyone else stopped spying for the tyrants, stopped supporting them with taxes, stopped providing muscle for enforcement.

There have always been powerful technologies arrayed against freedom. Technologies are just tools, and tools are neither inherently good nor evil. Tools may be used for good or for ill. It is the user who applies the tool to defensive force or to aggression, to support privacy or defeat it, for surveillance or concealment. Technologies are not deities, they are tools, made by humans for human purposes. Any technology you create can be defeated by a technology someone else creates.

Any lock can be defeated, any vault penetrated, any broadcast jammed, any data copied, any Van Eck device detected, any code penetrated. By the same token, any lockpick can be defeated, any vault breaker interdicted, any jamming device circumvented, any copier prevented, any detector subverted, any code breaker thwarted. It is a dance, and not a dance for the melancholy or slow. It is a dance for the vigorous.

Security is an illusion, and so is total information awareness. Security is a dangerous illusion if it takes place in your mind, if you think yourself safe, if you believe your systems impenetrable. Security is a useful illusion if it takes place in the minds of those who would steal your property or undermine your privacy.

Total information awareness is unobtainable if the information being sought was never recorded. If you have no bank accounts, no utilities in your name, no credit cards, no property in your name, then where are the records? To whom do they point? What is revealed about your usage patterns if the things you use are not used in your name, tied to your identity?

Total information awareness is pointless if there are not enough data analysts to examine what has been collected. Something as simple and as trivial as speaking Farsi, Pushto, or Somali may be sufficient to protect your privacy from governmental apparati dedicated to collecting information but unable to provide immediate translation. Keyword search systems cannot penetrate puns and homonyms.

Suppose for a moment that white wine is made contraband. Using clear text messaging systems, you refer to wide whine. You know what you mean, your reader learns what you mean by context, but a keyword search is necessarily going to fail to equate "wide whine" with "white whine." Slang, homonyms, and puns are discussed in a charming story published in Analog magazine in the 1970s called "Come You Nigh, Kay Shuns," the title of which refers to: communications.

Are you safe? Nope. You are vulnerable to attack. Does that mean you can do nothing to bolster your defenses, make yourself a more difficult target, cause interest to pass from you to others? Clearly not. Indeed, as with racing a dragon, you need not be faster than the dragon. All you need to do is be faster than the guy running next to you.

Is your hiding place impenetrable? Perhaps. The more so if it is in plain sight and your opponents don't know where to look.

Are you enslaved by technologies which ear tag you, identify you, inspect you, detect you, monitor your whereabouts, and expose you to investigation, prosecution, and imprisonment? No more than you allow these technologies to be involved in your life.

Your home phone company may provide a calling card for your use. Calls made with the card from phones around the world are billed to your home phone. But, just down the street there is a convenience store where they sell pre-paid calling cards for $10. You get fantastic numbers of minutes with many of these cards, even paying connect fees at pay phones. In the shopping mall nearby, someone is selling pre-paid cell phones with as many minutes as you please for local calls - and those calling cards provide for long distance and international calls. Yes, the location where the card is sold is tracked by the calling card vendor; that location may have video cameras. So your purchase may be tied to your calls, eventually.

But there are ways to defeat video cameras. Every faithful Islamic woman does so every day by wearing the burqa. Everyone in snow country defeats video cameras in cold weather by wearing ski masks. A black fedora, black suit jacket, and costume beard makes any man look like a devout Hasidic Jew - and these are as easily removed as they are applied.

You are driving along, minding your own business, when suddenly there are red lights and sirens. You pull over, and flip a switch on your dashboard. Police Officer Friendly wants to see your license and registration, perhaps also proof of insurance, which you provide. He goes back to his squad car, but communications are down. He cannot connect to the headquarters computer, run your license, or otherwise investigate you because a wide-band jamming device in your trunk has put communications on the fritz. It is like a solar flare has temporarily knocked out the entire radio frequency spectrum. Even his cell phone fails. How droll.

Yes it is possible that he'll choose to arrest you, or make an unlawful search, but chances are good that you get to go about your business. Or perhaps the identity papers you supply are the legitimate papers of another person with a clean record. Perhaps you yourself have a completely clean record. "These are not the droids you're looking for," said Obi Wan, and the storm troopers waved Luke through the checkpoint.

A bi-static radar system consists of two radar systems mounted on satellites or aircraft. Each broadcasts a radar signal and each receives the signals from both satellites. Using various clever interferometry techniques, it is possible to detect at less than one meter resolution objects as deep as one kilometer in the Earth. Metal objects, objects of significantly different temperature from the background (such as cryogenic propellants being pumped into underground missiles), and caves or hiding holes may be detected. However, the thoughtful person hides his cache of guns in a hole in the ground, fills in the hole, then parks an old junk car on top of the disturbed soil. The radar signature of the junk car overwhelms the signal from the gun cache, just as the radar return from an 18-wheeler may conceal your vehicle from a traffic cop.

Every technology invented by a human being may be defeated by a human being. Every technique for defeating one system may be overcome by another. The state is not God, and to worship the state, or fear it, as if it were omniscient is a sin of idolatry. The state is just a bunch of men and women who misbehave and claim the privilege to do so in the name of authority, power, or "protecting you from" whatever the latest boogey man might be. Or, as Mencken said, the whole idea is to have the public fearing hobgoblins and running to the state for protection.

If concealment were impossible, nobody would be able to operate as a spy, nobody would be able to steal property, nobody would be able to commit acts of terror, and Eric Robert Rudolph would not have been able to hide from the FBI for years before being captured. Robert O'Harrow provides effective analysis and reviews many important surveillance technologies, but, in the end, he draws the wrong conclusion. In the end, the men and women of the state are not any more clever, omniscient, or omnipotent than any other men and women. They are just as fallible as everyone else, just as prone to make assumptions, ignore the obvious, perceive patterns meant to misdirect them, and fail to see what is there to be seen. Just as often, they will disconnect the dots rather than connecting them up.

There is something to be concerned about in a surveillance state, in a police state, in the request for identity papers. There is nothing to be feared. Nothing men do is impenetrable to mankind. No human technology is invincible to all human technology. No inventive mind is so clever its inventions cannot be subverted or destroyed by another inventive mind. The only thing that prevents you from using necessary techniques and technologies to gain your freedom from those bent on your enslavement is your will.

Learn to avoid detection, defeat detection systems, obfuscate their surveillance with confusing signals, misdirect their attention with professional showmanship, and hide in plain sight. All you have to lose are their chains.

Free Market Money

      "It seems to me to be fairly certain that
      (a) a money generally expected to preserve its purchasing power approximately constant would be in continuous demand so long as the people were free to use it;

      "(b) with such a continuing demand depending on success in keeping the value of the currency constant one could trust the issuing banks to make every effort to achieve this better than would any monopolist who runs no risk by depreciating his money;

      "(c) the issuing institution could achieve this result by regulating the quantity of its issue; and

      "(d) such a regulation of the quantity of each currency would constitute the best of all practicable methods of regulating the quantity of media of exchange for all possible purposes."

      - F.A. Hayek, Denationalisation of Money - The Argument
      Refined: An Analysis of the Theory and Practice
      of Concurrent Currencies
      , 3rd Edition, 1990

Let's examine the constancy of purchasing power. One ounce of gold has been identified with the purchase of a man's suit, shoes, and belt for several centuries. It is said that an ounce of gold would buy those things at the end of the American Revolutionary War, at the end of the War for Southern Independence, at the end of the First World War, and at the end of the Second World War. Certainly those things are available for the same price today as a one ounce gold coin would fetch. Author G. Edward Griffin in The Creature from Jekyll Island goes further and claims that an ounce of gold would buy a man's toga, sash, and sandals at the time of Emperor Augustus, two thousand years ago.

By way of comparison, consider how many German marks it would take to buy an ounce of silver in January 1919. The price was twelve marks to the ounce of silver. Then the implementation of the Versailles Treaty forced a terrible hyperinflation on the Weimar Republic, and the mark became worth less and less, until eventually it was worthless. According to author Bernard von NotHaus in his 2003 book The Liberty Dollar Solution to the Federal Reserve that same ounce of silver cost 543 billion, 750 million marks in November 1923, about the time a guy with a funny mustache jumped up on a table in a beer hall in Munich and announced the revolution would be led by his Nazi party.

Was Hayek right? Of course! Gold has retained its purchasing power. So long as people have been free to own it, they have demanded it. Even when gold was being confiscated, something like three-quarters of all gold coins in the country were never turned over to the government. Gold has always been usefully dense in terms of value, so hiding gold coins is easy compared to hiding a military pattern battle rifle and a thousand rounds of ammo for the same.

In 1817, David Ricardo reached a similar conclusion to that of Hayek cited above. He wrote, "Though it [paper money] has no intrinsic value, yet, by limiting its quantity, its value in exchange is as great as an equal denomination of coins, or of bullion in that coin." Great. So, keeping the value constant by limiting the quantity of a certain currency in circulation would be possible. But, Ricardo continues, "Experience, however, shows that neither a State nor a Bank ever have had the unrestricted power of issuing paper money without abusing that power;...the issue of paper money ought to be under some check and control; and none seems so proper for that purpose as that of subjecting the issuers of paper money to the obligation of paying their notes in either gold coins or bullion."

Regulating the quantity of gold or silver money issued by a given currency provider is as simple as offering bailment and redemption. Exchangers bail in more gold or silver as needed. Users redeem currency for gold and silver as they please. The amount of currency in circulation follows the needs of the market.

Hayek's final observation cited above is that free market money is the best possible money at the best possible price. Where issuers and users are free to choose, they make the most effective choices. Where a monopoly is imposed coercively, choice is eliminated, and everyone's wealth is imperiled.

Gold Mining

Here's how the stocks we presently suggest in this area look of late (close Tuesday 21 June 2005):

Company Symbol C$ US$
D
Exploring
Almaden AMM.TO 1.86 -
C$0.12
Free Gold ITF.TO 0.17 0.134
-C$0.11
Luzon LZN.V 0.17 -
-C$0.12
Western WNP.V 2.90 -
C$1.16
Holding
Regalito Copper RLO - 4.95
$0.05
Northern Peru Copper NOC.to 1.89
-C$0.01
Lumina Resources LUR.to 0.89
C$0.14
Silver Standard SSRI - 12.10
-0.68
Vista VGZ.TO 4.36 -
- C$0.64
Mining
Apex Silver SIL - 13.59
$1.04
Newmont Mining NEM - 39.52
-3.78
Northgate NXG - 1.10
- 0.55
Tan Range TRE 1.29 1.04
C$0.29

Many of our suggestions seem to be moving up, and several have cleared from red to green.

Free Gold sent us a press release yesterday to announce that their Union Bay project is fully funded for US$1.1 million by Lonmin, PLC. So far, Lonmin has committed $3.9 million to the project. A total of 10,000 feet of diamond drilling is to be done in five target areas, expected completion in August 2005. Platinum of up to 14 grams per tonne has been found at locations in the project. Union Bay is an ultramafic complex at tidewater near Ketchikan, Alaska. Lonmin is earning up to 70% interest in the project. The company is also drilling at its Grew Creek project in the Yukon this Summer. Obviously, the market has pretty much yawned over these developments. We continue to believe that Free Gold is significantly undervalued by the market and remains a suggested opportunity.

Tan Range sent us a press release yesterday to announce that Jim Sinclair is placing C$1 million with the company in a private placement with proceeds to go to a major drilling and exploration program on the company's propeties in Tanzania. As might be expected when a company principal puts up his own money, the market has responded positively on this news.

Free Market Money

Gold has been holding above $434. Tuesday evening as we report this price, gold is at $438.30 on the Hong Kong market. Although these are the Summer doldrums of which we've written repeatedly, and which Doug Casey refers to as "The Quiet Season" or "The Shopping Season" variously in his newsletters (International Speculator, KitcoCasey.com, et alia), it has been a very odd season so far. Gold is far less seasonal than silver, but still substantially seasonal. So, it is possible for gold to set a Summer-time high water mark, and that would be nice, but it is not the odds-on favorite. Generally, we expect gold prices to muddle from here through August, with another assault on $455 and $500 in the Fall. However, gold is money, so any disruption to expectations, war with Iran, dramatic changes in central bank policies, etc., could send gold shooting skyward. The chances are extraordinarily low that gold would drop below $420 again this Summer, given its tests of that level. And, let's face it, there is nothing positive about the dollar. The most positive thing one can realistically say about the dollar is that all of its negatives have not exploded onto the scene simultaneously. Yet.

Silver is muddling along at $7.26. Again, silver is seasonal, and more so than gold. Silver's off season is the Summer, probably for the same reasons that gold's off season is the Summer. Producers are out drilling in the tundra zones while the land-rich northern hemisphere is in Summer. Users are planning vacations, not making sudden announcements about renewed demand.

Copper has been flirting with $1.64/pound. As of this writing it is $1.6292 and has been rising for several days. KitcoMetals.com reports exceedingly low warehouse stock levels. The continuing bull in copper would seem to be excellent news for companies in our list above who are major copper producers, or own substantial high grade ore, such as Regalito. Copper pennies from 1982 or earlier are now carrying a 7.5% premium to face value based on their copper and zinc metal content. The nickel (at least prior to 2004) coin's metal content is still 32% below face value.

U3O8 seems to be holding at $29/lb.

The three stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH, GBH, and MCG. Prices from Tuesday 21 June.

Company Symbol gAu
D
Gold Barter Holdings GBH 0.169

- 0.831

MicroCasino MCG 0.711

+ 0.198

Pecunix Venture Holdings PVH 0.034

- 0.016

Gold Barter Holdings continues to hold onto recent gains. MCG and PVH remain steady.

Space Frontier

Welcome to the first day of Summer. It's hot, the Sun is blazing, and all that sunlight - there must be some way to harness it.

K. Eric Drexler thought so and wrote his master's thesis, in the 1970s, on the topic of solar sails. Rob Staehle and the World Space Foundation thought so, too. Staehle wrote a detailed Mars mission proposal involving solar sails and aerocapture for the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1982. His foundation organized and built a solar sail prototype, and he was organizing a race from the Earth to the Moon for three competing teams of solar sailors in 1992.

But, today, the Planetary Society, Cosmos Studios, the Lavochkin Association and the Space Research Institute in Russia launched the world's first solar sail. (The sail-like behavior of the Skylab replacement reflector and certain satellite-mounted solar sails not providing measurable propulsion to the contrary notwithstanding, the Planetary Society claims this one is the first, and who are we to argue?)

So what is it? A solar sail is a mechanism that uses light pressure from sunlight to push a spacecraft around the Solar System or between star systems. Particle sails, solar sails, and light sails may use the particle stream from the Sun - the so-called Solar wind, or light from the Sun, or light from an artificial system such as a solar power satellite beaming light coherently in the form of a laser (or ground-based lasers, etc.). The main idea is to go sailing through space rather than depending on whatever propulsion system and fuel you might bring along. In the case of the Planetary Society "Cosmos One" mission, it is light pressure "reflecting photons against large metallized ultra-thin mirrors." "The solar sail spacecraft gains momentum in a continuous thrust which increases or decreases its orbital energy depending on which way the sail is tilted relative to the sunlight direction." Cosmos One has eight separate sails.

The project was started on 15 September 2000. A suborbital test flight of the sail deployment system was conducted on 20 July 2001 (an anniversary of men landing on the Moon in 1969) from a Russian submarine from the Barents Sea on a converted sub-launched ICBM. Sadly, the test spacecraft failed to separate from the rocket's third stage, perhaps foreshadowing future events. The test capsule continued on trajectory to Kamchatka and has not been recovered.

It appears that the Cosmos 1 spacecraft was launched successfully, but some problem has occurred. In Russia, the spacecraft team is unable to make contact. "Over there," reports Emily Lakdawalla, project operations assistant and image processing coordinator, "they switched from a nominal mode of operation to one in which they will search for the spacecraft every chance they get, the next one being at about 02:39:54 UT (19:39:54 here [in Pasadena, California]). During that search, they'll also send a command to the spacecraft to talk. But, since no station has detected the spacecraft since Petropavlovsk, and Strategic Command has not detected it, either, we don't know where the spacecraft is." Emphasis in original.

In his television series "Cosmos," Carl Sagan once said, "We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars." Well, almost ready, anyhow.

At a guess, the spacecraft hasn't separated from its orbital insertion stage, or is otherwise in an unexpected orbit. It appears that the orbital insertion motor fired, which is a good thing. From schematics of the payload assembly, it is clear that the kick motor should detach before the spacecraft deploys its solar energy collector panels. It may be that the same problem of the upper stage motor not separating, or a new problem with an orbital-destination payload shroud deployment, has cropped up. Unclear why the Planetary Society is out of touch with their spacecraft. Who knows, maybe the jerks at NASA found some way to sabotage it (one says, tongue only somewhat planted in cheek).

Some of the precedents the Planetary Society and team are trying to set:

  • first media space venture (a tip of the hat to Carl Sagan's widow Ann Druyan and her award-winning Cosmos Studios - major financial supporters for the mission);
  • first space organization venture (with exasperated sigh from the Space Travel Services team);
  • first (un-classified) submarine rocket launch to orbit (clearly not to the right orbit, though);
  • first solar sail flight attempt;
  • "Russian- American cooperation overcoming military and national security restrictive policies (we will be obeying the law, but must meet stringent bureaucratic licensing requirements by the Department of State)" sez Lou Friedman;
  • and an anticipated sharing of the mission with the public. If it does deploy to orbit, the solar sail may be visible from your area, a "Solar Sail Watch" similar to the L5 Society's old "Mir Watch" complete with ephemeris software and tracking tips is available from the Planetary Society web site, cited above.

The last word on launch day, from Lakdawalla, "We have reviewed our telemetry recordings and have found what we believe are spacecraft signals in the data recorded at the tracking stations in Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, and Majuro, Marshall Islands. The review of data received at the tracking station in Panska Ves, Czech Republic also appears to indicate a spacecraft signal. If confirmed, these data will indicate that Cosmos 1 made it to orbit. We will continue to monitor planned telemetry sessions and will be working with US Strategic Command to locate Cosmos 1."

One final wrinkle on this project. Their test flight was back in 2001, before the World Trade Center attack. Their site continues to have pages indicating a planned follow-up orbital mission in 2002. Louis Friedman is not one to be anti-government in any public statement, and even he is so frustrated at the export control restrictions that he bad mouths the bureaucracy in one comment quoted above. Clearly, this mission would have taken place much earlier if it were not for the asinine politics associated with Homeland Security and Der Fuhrer's Geheimstadt polizei sicherheitsdienst. May all fascists rot in hell forever.

SpaceDev is at $1.62. It is up $0.12 since we first suggested it.

Launch Technology

NASA gets no breaks from me, has earned no breaks, and deserves none. The space agency claims to have satisfied 12 of the 15 recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and is still planning to fly the shuttle in July. What haven't they fixed? Reducing the debris risk, providing the shuttle crews with tools and training to make repairs in-flight, after launch, and a tougher exterior able to resist more damage. Griffin is an engineer and physicist and ought to know better. (The mysteries begin with - why did NASA stop using the old foam that worked fine on about a hundred missions? Chloro-flourocarbon based, sure, but how much of this change was motivated by touchy-feely environmentalist-wacko pseudo-concerns, and how much by the desire to corruptly allocate yet another shuttle external tank contract to Lockheed's Michoud facility? Well, hmmm.....)

According to the above-cited essay/interview by the Houston Chronicle's Mark Carreau, the shuttle crew if launched in July would only have the tools and ability to make very minor repairs to the shuttle. But, what the heck, they might as well fly. President Bush has called for the entire shuttle fleet to be retired in 2010, and there won't be a replacement from the defense contractor crowd until 2014 at the very earliest, 2020 by some estimates (and these corrupt contract allocations generally go to extensions and change orders to maximize the take for the scum).

Griffin speaks the party line, "Space exploration today requires a technology that, frankly, is just barely doable, just like oceangoing voyages were 500 years ago."

Really? Oceangoing voyages were routine thousands of years ago when the Egyptians sent a fleet across the Pacific ocean. Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa before Herodotus, at least 400 BC. Phoenicians were also probably fishing the Grand Banks off Labrador and likely visited Brazil. Vikings, a thousand years ago, settled in Newfoundland, Iceland, and Greenland. Polynesian sailors used dug-out catamarans and tri-marans to routinely navigate the entire Pacific hundreds of years ago. What is this goofball spewing? Nonsense.

Space exploration is not difficult, not expensive, and not dangerous, if it is done right. Ask Burt Rutan. Ask Richard Branson. The problems are mostly red tape, not money, not market, not economics, and certainly not technology.

For the love of Pete, the time from Kitty Hawk to passenger flights across the Atlantic was less than 30 years. The time from Gagarin's first flight has been more than 30 years - and still no passenger travel to space. Why? Not due to dangers, not due to expenses, not due to difficulties of any technical nature. Passengers are not routinely flying in space because NASA, the FAA, and other governmental bureau-rats won't let them.

It would be wrong to wish ill on the next shuttle crew. They are not individually at fault for the difficulties being faced by the space tourism teams. However, it would serve NASA right as an organization, and it would be poetic justice indeed for Michael Griffin if his decision to launch more shuttles proved at least somewhat castastrophic. They replaced Challenger with Endeavour, but aren't stupid enough to replace Columbia. So there are only three left: Endeavour, Atlantis, and the soon-to-launch Discovery. If they lose another one, the shuttle program ought to be closed permanently. It should have been stopped already, but that's not the NASA "way."

Please pray for the shuttle astronauts on the next mission - that they survive somehow, perhaps aboard the space station. Pray that NASA is terminated before it kills again.

New Country Developments

Near the end of March, one of my old friends from the space activist community sent along his thoughts on new country developments. His particular focus has been some of the prospects in Latin America, which he discusses below. Given several inquiries from folks looking for places to live in Latin America, I've decided to review his comments here.

One of the interesting issues Dennis has looked at is identity. He writes, "In a true community, our identity is established through personal relationships. These solid friendships are antithetical to how the System would have people relate to each other, as strangers who base their exchanges on ritually presenting identifying papers, which offer the illusion of a trust substitute." That seems quite cogent and correct.

Dennis continues, "Unlike the Mennonites, a technologically advanced new country can also apply countermeasures, such as blinding spy satellites with lasers and building multi-zone security systems around settlements. Surface-to-air missiles are not terribly hard for a couple of engineers to design and build. Nor would guided RPGs be. A successful security system for new settlements, however, would not have need of such desperate defense means. The best defense is to not be perceived as a prospective target."

Here, I'd have to disagree with Dennis. Tools do not in of themselves signify desperation. Rather, having useful tools like lasers, missiles, and grenades indicates preparedness. Fortune favors the prepared, just as God helps those who apply their talents to self-betterment. Having useful tools does not indicate desperation. Using tools for good purposes, such as self-defense, is in no way bad.

The best defense is not to be perceived at all. That also makes for fine opportunities in offense.

The old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times and come to the attention of important persons," comes to mind. How could anyone who takes an interest in his situation fail to live in interesting times? But there are several ideas for avoiding the attention of self-important, arrogant, system-managing bureau-rats and politicians.

One idea from Dennis, "A network of inconspicuous settlements distributed throughout a region or continent may constitute a unified community in the 21st century, connected by transportation and communications technology and invisible geopolitically and geographically. The most difficult aspect of the distributed approach is to maintain cohesiveness while physically separated. The Mennonites do this through commitment to a shared worldview and much travel. Settlements in Canada, Mexico, Belize, and Bolivia interact sufficiently to maintain the loose ties that characterize a libertarian form of distributed country (not state). The distributed approach calls for "outside-the-box" thinking about new-country formation. Historically, we have considered countries as states: a (largely) contiguous plot of land demarcated by geographic boundaries. A country should be defined by the common characteristics of its people. Where the land we live on is located might not be as important as our relationships to each other."

One of the key opportunities of the Internet is the distribution of business activities of all sorts. It is useful, but not essential, to have people in direct physical proximity for meetings and exchange of information. Certainly, a great deal of information is conveyed in voice, facial, and body communications. Posture, expression, and tone of voice all contribute to convey extremely nuanced meaning. Even smell can play a role in generating comaraderie and understanding, as powerful emotions generate olfactory sensations, and smell is deeply tied to memory.

As useful as getting together or being near enough to provide combat support may be, there is much that can be done from a distance. Virtual offices are becoming more and more sophisticated, with encrypted file sharing, encrypted voice, and encrypted web video.

So, where to look for places to live? Dennis writes, "In South America, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay are attractive countries for Mennonites. Over fifty colonies exist in Bolivia alone."

Bolivia has already been the focus of previous reports in this series. Clearly, some clever and conscientious people have seen Bolivia's potential. (As a follow-up to the possibility of Bolivia splitting mentioned in a recent report, we note that the La Paz government recently sent the military to Santa Cruz to occupy it and "protect" it.)

Then Dennis turns to a discussion of Central America.

    "Both concentrated and distributed new nations have possibilities in low-population-density Central America. One possibility is that provinces of existing countries gain a semi-autonomous status as a step toward full autonomy. The two large northern and Southern provinces of eastern Nicaragua - the Mosquito Coast - already have semiautonomous status. While the Mosquito Coast is not an entirely desirable natural setting in which to homestead, a topology map shows that within the northern province are elevations of several thousand feet. At these elevations, the climate is tolerable even for gringos not much acclimated to the tropics. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has a population of 5 million (mostly in the less humid Western third of the land), and has the lowest cost of living in Central America. Paramilitary gangs left over from the Contra days are found in northeast Nicaragua, and protection against what is left of these groups would be a concern of settlements there. The region has abundant rivers and significant rainfall; water scarcity is not a problem. Land is not particularly good for crops, though river land is fertile. A realistic attempt at building technology-oriented settlements here would require significant infrastructure development, and hence investment capital. Yet it offers perhaps the best political possibility in Central America.

    "Limon province, on the east coast of Costa Rica, is a continuation of the Mosquito Coast. Rigoberto Stewart of Costa Rica is attempting to achieve a semi-autonomous status for Limon as a libertarian province. Limon has areas at higher elevation, though not as high and cool as San Jose, the capital. Costa Rica had been the country of choice for North American expatriates in the 1970s and '80s. Intel even built a semiconductor processing facility there. It has become more expensive and crime-ridden, leading those looking for a place with a near American lifestyle to consider Panama instead. Both Panama and Costa Rica (along with El Salvador and Mexico) are already too developed - and consequently entangled in the System - to consider seriously for new-country development. Exceptions are Limon and possibly the remote Darien province of Panama and the Chiriqui Western highlands.

    "Northern Guatemala (the Peten) has a low population density and seclusion. Both Guatemala and Honduras are not as safe as Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. Nicaragua is rated as second safest after Panama. San Salvador is dangerous. Honduras has plenty of undeveloped land in the eastern part of the country, and it is remote. The better the opportunity for political independence, the more difficult is settlement-building and the attainment of some creaturely comforts. This difficulty centers on cost per watt of energy. With emerging alternative energy methods, such as solar thermal electric systems, abundant, low-cost energy would significantly reduce the homesteading barrier in these places. The second major difficulty is in importing items to the settlement from the developed world.

    "Belize is a special case. It too is underdeveloped and has a low population density (250,000 in a state the size of Massachusetts), but is a former British colony. It maintains ties with Britain, and the Queen could step in if the country were threatened, as happened in the Falkland Islands. The language and legal customs are English. It is close to the developed world. Belize's only historic enemy is Guatemala, which until recently had maintained its claim to Belize. As the protectorate of the closest ally of the U.S., its geopolitical positioning is unique. It is not likely to become a CIA playground, as has northern Guatemala and Nicaragua. However, the U.S. is building a $50 million embassy in Belmopan, the capital, suggesting expanded U.S. interests in the region. Belize is not considered resource-rich. There are some modest oil deposits, but no known large ones. The present Belize government has managed to become the seventh most indebted country to the World Bank, and the usual austerity measures have been applied, along with the sale of government resources, such as utilities, to transnational corporations. Cost of living is not as low as Nicaragua or surrounding countries, but is lower than the U.S. if one does not attempt to export verbatim an American lifestyle.

    "Belize offers a unique possibility for some form of political autonomy for at least two reasons. First, colonies are not uncommon here. About 5% of the population consists of Mennonite colonies, and they are an important economic contributor to the country. Settlements of distinct subcultures are part of the Belizean culture and are accepted as such. Second, with a population no larger than that of Toledo, Ohio, one must wonder what kind of a national government Belize must have. Is it a city government with a state department? Nearly so. With so few people, high-level government officials are accessible. In this context, new-nation building takes a somewhat different form....The Belize government is based on English principles (as is America) and does not have the resources to micromanage society, as do the developed countries. Consequently, inhabitants are largely left alone. Belize is a prime candidate for buffered nation-building."

All this information about Central America is fascinating, and bears closer scrutiny. Unfortunately, with this issue late, we don't have time to delve into a close examination. We do have time, though, to mention one other country: Ecuador. The lastest issue of ISIL.org Freedom Network News mentions that Ecuador's congress has dismissed the president after a week of violent protests. The new president faced similar violence as demonstrators vented their anger toward a corrupt political class.

Dennis concluded his essay by suggesting some useful steps for moving toward becoming an ex-patriate, or part of a new country. Some of this advice is very good.

    "Begin to distance yourself from the System where you are currently living. Make a list of all the ways you interact with society and evaluate their consequences. Order them according to difficulty of severance. Then start severing the easier ones and work through the list. For instance, to give up employment, you would need to become an independent worker. To withdraw from financial monitoring and control, you would need to distance yourself from financial institutions. (One way is to use trusts, and international corporations, but these also entail System entanglements.) How then do you cash checks? The hardest severance is from fiat money. Start by using intrinsic-value (gold, silver) based currencies such as American Liberty dollars instead of the Green Paper."

Getting off this planet is ultimately the goal of this author and many others (including Dennis, if I'm not very much mistaken). For many years, it has been clear that building a free human civilization in space or on other planets is not going to be easy. Thus far, it has not been a technology challenge nor an economic challenge, but a red tape challenge. Therefore, it has been my contention that this endeavor, though it should be possible to achieve within only a few decades, may take several centuries to thoroughly accomplish.

Among the pre-requisites for success that I've identified are free countries in which to operate and free market money with which to work. These are seemingly separate and unrelated from space achievement, but their relationship is very clear. Given that it is red tape and not technology stopping us, a free country with the independence to challenge the Fabian socialists at their worst, or several free countries pursuing active space tourism and settlement projects would seem essential. And, given the way these Fabian would-be masters behave, working within the existing banking cartel's infrastructure is unworkable.

Longevity

Researchers at Australia's Monash University have reported results from their study of di-hydro-epi-androsterone (DHEA). The report is entitled, "Dihydroepiandrosterone increases endothelial cell proliferation in vitro and improves endothelial function in vivo by mechanisms independent of androgen and estrogen receptors." The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinological Metabolism for September 2004. It is authored by MR Williams, T Darwood and S Ling, among others and is the basis for Nurse Smith's comments cited above.

The report notes that epidemiological studies have linked age-related decline in DHEA with reduced longevity and greater risk of heart disease. DHEA supplements appear to improve cardiovascular health.

Using in vitro studies (studies in glass, or in petrie dishes and test tubes) the team of researchers showed that DHEA stimulates endothelial cells to divide. These are the vital cells lining blood vessels. Their inability to divide is very likely linked to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. (It is possible that the use of cholesterol to patch places where arteries are leaking is an adaptation that subseqently leads to blockages.) Estrogen and testosterone also stimulate the endothelial cells to divide.

DHEA provokes endothelial cells not only to divide but also to produce greater amounts of nitric oxide which is a vasodilator. Nitric oxide is associated with effects protecting the heart and blood vessels. By dilating blood vessels, nitric oxide helps improve blood flow, which can be critically urgent in situations where constriction has reduced flow to critical tissue, such as the heart or brain. One of the interesting aspects of the current report is that DHEA seems to act on endothelial cells independently of the cells' estrogen and androgen receptors.

Thirty-six healthy, post-menopausal women were provided 100 milligrams per day of DHEA for three months by the research team. (Compare to 50 milligrams per day suggested dose for men and 25 milligram dose for women, this study dosage was very high.) DHEA supplements increased blood vessel dilation, reduced blood pressure, increased blood flow, and reduced cholesterol levels.

Evidently, DHEA supplements are safe in significantly higher doses than we've discussed here previously. As well, DHEA's benefits for reducing abdominal fat and its other benefits cited here suggest that it is a remarkable compound.

Dendreon was at $5.58 when we looked in Tuesday 21 June 2005. Dendreon are the Provenge prostate cancer treatment folx. Its price per share is up 26 cents since we first mentioned it.

Elan Corp, PLC, was at $6.99 when we looked in on it Tuesday 21 June 2005.


Publication Note: Well, the lag is shortening, but we're still late.


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